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Neuronal synapses are basic units of neural circuits and brain functions. A large number of proteins including receptors, signaling proteins, and scaffolding proteins participate in the molecular organization and functional coordination of neuronal synapses. We have been studying the molecular mechanisms underlying the formation, differentiation, maintenance, and the dynamic plasticity of neuronal synapses.

Intriguingly, many synaptic proteins have recently been associated with diverse psychiatric disorders, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, intellectual disability, and emotional disorders. It is conceivable that defective synaptic proteins would disrupt normal formation and function neuronal synapses and neural circuits, leading to diverse brain dysfunctions.

This emerging association between defective synaptic proteins and brain dysfunctions is now called "synaptopathy". Our center will be exploring key neural mechanisms underlying various forms of synaptopathies. To this end, we will use diverse experimental setups including cultured neurons, brain slices, living brains, and transgenic mice, and employ various approaches including molecular, cell-biological, biochemical, anatomical, imaging, electrophysiological, and behavioral tools and methods. These key mechanisms will help us understand the mechanisms underlying normal brain functions as well as diverse brain dysfunctions.